A third year PhD student at the Center for Extragalactic Astronomy at Durham University, George Lansbury is in the middle of a very ambitious project: digging deep through the gas and dust clouds to detect and observe black holes. The NuSTAR project is comprised of a collaborative group of about 150 astrophysicists from all over the world working together to understand black holes better.

As you might imagine, space requires a lot of studying from different angles, and the team’s research is extensive. Through the NuSTAR Project George works with people in the US, Hawaii, Chile and Europe, to name just a few locations. Being able to collaborate effectively across borders and time zones is an absolutely critical component of the team's success. That’s where Huddle comes in.

The NuSTAR collaboration has already driven more than 100 published scientific papers, which is incredibly prolific both for this field and for academia in general. They could do this largely because Huddle enabled the team to work on papers together and share findings in real-time, incorporating each other’s comments and using one another’s discoveries to inform their individual research.

“The ability to share observations and findings and work together effectively is key to the success of the project, so implementing Huddle for collaboration has proved incredibly useful,” said George. 

The ability to share drafts with collaborators and work in everyone’s points without having to iterate a new version every time means the team can work far faster while remaining painstakingly accurate—something that’s non-negotiable when you’re working on a scientific document. With Huddle, every new observation is recorded and every change and comment is documented, so the research team can keep each other updated, discuss changes and review every step of the process without ever leaving the portal.

The team uses Huddle for tracking new information from other sources so that their research always has complete context, and even for scheduling conference calls—hard to do when you’re working with a literal universe of data.

Brian Grefenstette, Research scientist at the Space Radiation Lab, California Institute of Technology agrees. “We quickly discovered it’s much better to post to Huddle than to use email, which creates chains 50 messages long and 40Mb heavy – they’re a nightmare,” said Brian. “With Huddle we have a central repository and can organize by target, in folders with version histories – it’s a major improvement on the projects.”

Huddle is wonderfully efficient for collaboration. It has enabled an international team to work together effectively and make new discoveries. “NuSTAR has had a big impact, and Huddle has been an important part of that,” said George.

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